U.N.: More Than 2 Million Syrians Have Fled Their Country

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Sept. 3 2013 10:45 AM

U.N.: More Than 2 Million Syrians Have Fled Their Country's Civil War

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A Syrian boy stands with siblings outside of the home they are renting in a poor neighborhood with a high concentration of Syrian refugees on June 30, 2013 in Beirut, Lebanon

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

More than 2 million Syrians have fled their country's increasingly bloody civil war, and another 4.25 million have been displaced within its borders, the United Nations announced Tuesday.

The 2-million figure represents only those who have formally registered as refugees or who are pending registration, suggesting that the true number is likely much, much larger. Nonetheless, when combined with those displaced internally, "more Syrians are now forcibly displaced than people from any other country," according to the U.N. Given Syria had a population of about 21 million in 2011 (per the World Bank), a little back-of-the-envelope math suggests that roughly 30 percent of the population is currently displaced.

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By the U.N.'s count, at this time last year only about 230,000 Syrians had fled their homeland. Today, that figure represents less than half of the number of Syrians who have either registered or are awaiting registration in three neighboring countries: Turkey (460,000), Jordan (515,000) and Lebanon (716,000). The refugee total includes more than 1 million children.

An average of 5,000 Syrians are now crossing the borders each day, according to the Washington Post. Given the violence is only expected to escalate and spread, the U.N. predicts that the refugee population could top 3 million by the end of the year. Full U.N. release here, complete with canned quotes from UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie (yes, that Angelina Jolie).

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

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